Gerry and Rosemary Franklin retired couple

Gerry and Rosemary Franklin have made a bittersweet decision that empty-nesters right across the country are faced with each year.

The Canberra couple will move into retirement accommodation later this year and sell the family home where they have lived for almost half a century.

At 83, Mr Franklin is determined that he and his wife, 82, downsize together while they are both fit and well.

An ideal family home

It was 1971 when the Franklins bought land and built the first house on Wenholz Street in Farrer.

"The house itself cost $17,000 and the block of land we bought at auction," Mr Franklin said.

"We said we wouldn't go beyond $1,500 for the land, but we actually went to $1,900.

"A very expensive block," he added, chuckling.

Moving from their small "govie house" in Dickson, the Franklins were in need of a bigger home to accommodate their six young children.

"Farrer was a lovely neat little suburb and we were pleased to be here," Mrs Franklin said.

"To us, this place was ideal."

Changing needs

Over 46 years the house has undergone numerous additions and renovations to accommodate the family's changing needs.

"For a time there was our family of eight living here and now it's just the two of us, so it's a big house to be in," Mr Franklin said.


Rosemary and Gerry Franklin sitting in backyard

Rosemary and Gerry Franklin say their children have accepted the decision to downsize and sell the family home was a good idea.

(ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley)

Sitting in their flourishing backyard, the Franklins joked that they would not miss having to weed the garden.

"The garden that we planted, we've enjoyed the garden, but as we've got older, it is harder to do the gardening," Mrs Franklin said.

Although I will miss being able to go outside every morning and pick a bunch of flowers from my garden.

A house full of memories

"It's been a real family home with so many big celebrations here for the children and grandchildren," Mrs Franklin said.

"Now our children have been through school, been through university, married local girls and boys and most of them have settled here.

"They've loved the house as much as we do."

For the Franklins, leaving the family home will be "tinged with sadness".

"Rosemary's mother also came and lived with us here for the last six years of her life, before she died at 101," Mr Franklin said.

"Those memories are all part of the house.

"With Rosemary's heredity behind her — her father was 97 when he died and her mother at 101 — I figured she might be a widow for a few years and I couldn't see her rattling around in here on her own.

If we’re going to move, it’s better that we move together.

"Our new home will be a lot easier for one left alone to feel secure."

magnificent garden

Rosemary Franklin says her garden has been magnificent in bloom each spring.

(ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley)

The Franklins will also leave behind their much-loved neighbourhood community.

"We love the street," Mrs Franklin said.

"We've had such a friendly number of neighbours and we're going to be grieving at leaving the street."

Encouraged by friends who have already moved into retirement villages and smaller homes, the Franklins are proud their decision is one they have been able to make for themselves.

“All the people that we know who have been through this say it’s like going overseas — it’s like sheer hell to go through, but when you get there, it’s marvellous,” Mr Franklin said.